Conference on innovative technologies brings business to the North East

Internationally renowned figures have visited Newcastle to discuss bioresources

Stan Higgins of NEPIC
Stan Higgins of NEPIC

More than 100 international delegates visited the North East yesterday for a conference looking at innovative technologies that could transform the carbon usage of the manufacturing industries.

The NEPIC International Bioresources Conference, held at the Vermont Hotel in Newcastle, featured a speech from Rich Hall, senior consultant at event sponsors PWC, who gave a global overview of bioresources and the low carbon economy.

Henrique Vianna de Amorim, president of Fermentec of Brazil, meanwhile, spoke of how yeasts can be used to produce chemicals, while Professor Chen Jishuang, director of Nanjing University of Technology, Institute of Bioresources in China, discussed how straw was being put to industrial use in his home country.

Stuart Easterbrook, contract manger of UK National Grid, likewise informed scientists and engineers in the audience about the future of bio-methane in the national gas grid.

The meeting also looked at new technologies that can transform carbon dioxide captured by industry and societal waste into materials for industrial reuse, recycling and energy production. These carbon lowering initiatives were presented by SITA Group and BOC-Linde from the UK, NetPower (USA), Vito (Belgium) and Plasma Energy Ltd (India).

The potential of the North East region to build a hydrogen economy was also discussed - particularly the possibility hydrogen fuelled transportation between the region’s major towns and cities.

NEPIC, the North East Process Industry Cluster, represents over 500 chemical, pharmaceutical, biotechnology, energy and renewables businesses in the region, as well as their support companies.

These businesses generate in excess of £10bn of sales and make up 30% of the region’s industrial base, employing about 35,000 people directly and impacting on a further 200,000 supply chain jobs.

The cluster organisation coordinates approximately £5m of activity each year in the region and has brought £2.5bn in Gross Value Added value to the UK economy through its work.

Chief executive of the group, Dr Stan Higgins, said “It is a rare occurrence that such an international audience comes to a conference in the North East.

“The use of bioresources is something we at NEPIC have been pushing for many years and this is the fifth time we have staged our International Bioresources conference here.

“The fact that a number of transformational investments are already being made in our region really put us on the world map when it comes to the development and implementation of low carbon manufacturing.”

John Brady, NEPICs bioresources manager, who created the conference’s low carbon agenda and brought the range of prominent speakers to the region, added. “We must thank our sponsors PWC, Bond Dickinson, PD Ports and the NE LEP who have enabled NEPIC to seek out the low carbon technologies that are being implemented around the world today.

“NEPIC’s international reputation as a Gold Label Cluster organisation helps us to create partnerships and links to key industrial projects that could be implemented here in future and transformational for manufacturing as a whole.”

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